ObamaCare: Fix it, don't fight it
Here's a suggestion to the Texas congressional delegation on ObamaCare: Fix it. Don't fight it.
A national health care system is not popular in Texas. Congressional representatives have little to lose by supporting the quixotic effort to shut down the federal government. But the Texas delegation could lead, as opposed to just being popular.
If the repeal of the Affordable Health Care Act were up to voters in Texas, this would be easy. But it's not. And it would be better for everyone if the Texas delegation conceded sooner, rather than later, that this is a fight that they can't win.
Texas, like the rest of the country, is being hurt by the shutdown. That's especially obvious for those of us who live on the doorsteps of NASA. A lot of paychecks have suddenly disappeared from the area economy.
It would help if our representatives in Congress would make another run at fixing the problems with this legislation, rather than fighting it to the bitter end.
Fiscal conservatives in Europe have worked on national health care systems with one view in mind: controlling costs.
American conservatives could learn from that experience. Taxpayers here are paying outrageous amounts because we don't have a real system of controlling public expenditures.
The Affordable Health Care Act, for all its problems, could be a vehicle for limiting what the public spends. That's the fight to be fighting.
Compromise isn't a bad word
Having survived the Civil War, this country should know better than to treat the latest government shutdown as the political equivalent of the Bible's depiction of Earth's last days.
The American political system may be stalled, but it isn't time for a mercy shot to put it out of its misery. Rather, the mess in Washington should motivate people to use the best means they have to push their government out of its funk: going to the polls and voting.
There's a caveat to that prescription, however. If voters do no more than pull the lever for a label, instead of a person, they will continue to elect politicians who don't recognize the word compromise as part of the English language - politicians who think it's treason to part from their faction for any reason.
Government can't function without compromise.
That type of difficulty is what this country seems to be experiencing now. While President Obama touts his reelection as a mandate to implement the Affordable Care Act, a minority of House Republicans argues that their collective election was a mandate to destroy the law. Unable to agree, they missed a deadline to fund many government functions.
That failure won't be final. The evidence is in the 237 years their government has endured, even through the aforementioned Civil War.
The remedy is for more of the people elected to Congress to make informed decisions about the best course for this country, to unshackle themselves from groupthink politics, and to stop being afraid to compromise. That's harder to do these days, with so many legislative districts carved so as to discourage diversity, including diverse points of view. But it isn't impossible.
The remedy is stronger leadership to reach the compromises that Washington has evaded for too long. Even as the fight linking the government shutdown to Obamacare may be nearing a resolution, other lines have been drawn over increasing the nation's borrowing limit. Once again, there's too little talk of compromise among lawmakers.